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Anorak | Australian government moves to outlaw satire

Australian government moves to outlaw satire

by | 28th, October 2017

Juice Media makes “Honest Government Adverts” that lampoon Australian politicians and policies. It’s all a little dystopian – there are videos on dying koalas; mass pollution killing whales; corporate greed; torture – often following adverts for very expensive watches and consumer goods, like Capri Sun, the sugary drink served in a non-recyclable polyester, aluminium and polyethylene carton.

So much for the satire:

 

 

And despite being a lot better mannered than most Australian politicos, the actual Australian government wants to quieten Juice Media’s voice on pain of law. It’s only satire if the Government says it is.

Juice Media tweets:

The Dept of the Prime Minister has received complaints from members of the public raising concerns that the content on this website may be “mistaken for Australian Government material … It would be appreciated if you would ensure that The Juice Media productions do not use the Australian Government logo to avoid The Juice Media productions being mistaken for Australian Government material”.

 

 

 

Electronic Frontier Foundation has more:

The proposed legislation does include an exemption for “conduct engaged in solely for genuine satirical, academic or artistic purposes.” But, as critics have noted, this gives the government leeway to attack satire that it does not consider “genuine.” Similarly, the limitation that conduct be “solely” for the purpose of satire could chill speech. Is a video produced for satirical purposes unprotected because it was also created for the purpose of supporting advertising revenue?

Government lawyers failing to understand satire is hardly unique to Australia. In 2005, a lawyer representing President Bush wrote to The Onion claiming that the satirical site was violating the law with its use of the presidential seal. The Onion responded that it was “inconceivable” that anyone would understand its use of the seal to be anything but parody. The White House wisely elected not to pursue the matter further. If it had, it likely would have lost on First Amendment grounds. Australia, however, does not have a First Amendment (or even a written bill of rights) so civil libertarians there are rightly concerned that the proposed law against impersonation could be used to attack political commentary. We hope the Australian government either kills the bill or amends the law to include both a requirement of intent to deceive and a more robust exemption for satire.

Spotter: Juice Media,

 



Posted: 28th, October 2017 | In: News, Politicians Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink